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Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Stormtroopers, Stories, Star Wars … and Perspective

The concept of multiple perspective has always interested me — even before I could put my finger on it. I didn’t realize this until recently, when I was going through some old files and came across some of my “future story ideas” from middle school.

“I, Stormtrooper” was something I’d written a couple pages of notes about while still a middle-school student. I planned to write a story — perhaps even a novel — by that name. It was to be a telling of the original Star Wars trilogy from the perspective of an Imperial stormtrooper. Just a regular foot soldier, upset at the terrorists going around and shooting innocent recruits.  (Those terrorists, of course, were Luke, Han, Leia, Chewbacca, and the rebels.)

I often caught myself pondering the perspective of innocent bystanders in movies. They guy who gets pushed out of the way and into the water when a high-speed chase zips by. The person who flees for cover when a shootout occurs. We follow the action, but I’ve always speculated: what was it like for that guy? Did he go home and tell his wife and kids, “you won’t believe what happened to me today!”

That’s something I find interesting in fiction. How does something like that leave a mark on an everyday person?

Perspective was something I played with in my writing often, but it wasn’t until I discovered the “novel in stories” format that I found a way to really put it into play.

It’d read connected stories before, but Joan Silber’s Ideas from Heaven really put it into perspective for me, so to speak. Each story connected to another in the book. Sometimes only as a paragraph or a line or two. The main nemesis of the first story is the main character of the last story—and in his own story he’s not nearly as bad a guy. That idea excited me. Again, it’s all about perspective.

Most of my longer fiction up to that point was strict novel. My short fiction was not connected. I had recently written three stories that, coincidentally, all had scenes on a train. That’s when I realized I had the perfect vehicle for my own novel in stories. Thus Tracks: A Novel in Stories was born — each story in the novel from the perspective of another passenger on the train, but all interconnecting — the side character of one story becoming the main character in another, one person’s story continuing as an aside in that of another passenger.

At the moment, I’m at work on another novel, this one more A to B with one main character. But I know that I won’t be able to help myself. There will be another novel in stories in my future.

As for “I, Stormtrooper …” it looks like J.J. Abrams and Lawrence Kadsan beat me to it with Finn in the upcoming Star Wars: The Force Awakens. If only I’d gotten my manuscript to Lucasfilm first. That sort of puts things in perspective.

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Tuesday, December 08, 2015

Talking Fiction and Travel at Late Last Night Books

Sonia Linebaugh recently interviewed me for Late Last Night Books, a blogzine about fiction by novelists. In the interview, we talked about Tracks: A Novel in Stories, writing, travel writing, and train travel both in Russia and the United States.

“I love traveling by train, ensconced with strangers boarding and debarking according to some mysterious and personal trajectory,” Sonia wrote. “So right from the start I was intrigued by Eric Goodman’s Tracks, a novel in short stories about travelers on a train headed from Baltimore for Chicago."

Sonia even found an old travel story I wrote about a Paul Simon tour and compared the road trip narrative to train travel. “It was both a homage and an evocation.”

Read Sonia’s interview at Late Last Night Books.

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Tuesday, December 01, 2015

Holiday Book Bazaar and Lighting of York’s Tree

The Smyser-Bair House / Historic York Inn and the Lit and Art Reading Series invite you to join us for an old fashioned Holiday Bazaar (in conjunction with the lighting of the City of York’s tree. The evening of books, music, food, drinks, palatial tours, original art, and regional literature takes place at 30 South Beaver Street as a part of Downtown York’s First Friday festivities from 5 to 9 p.m. on December 4!

This month’s theme is York City Light Up Night. The lighting of the Christmas Tree at Continental Square takes place at 6:15. It’s just a few minutes’ walk from our Holiday Bazaar — a perfect pairing.
During our Holiday Bazaar, you can enjoy a free hot or frosty drink and some food as you listen to live music and browse books, art, and items that would make great gifts for those on your list — or for yourself.
Berkshire-Hathaway will offer complete tours of the 1830s mansion, The Smyser-Bair House / Historic York Inn. Step back in time for a tour through history, with hand-carved, gilded Pier mirrors, stained glass, etched glass, hand plasterwork, woodwork, and chandeliers that rival those found in museums. Anchored in the historic district since the 1830s, and belonging to the Smyser-Bair family until 1979 (when it was left to the York Historical Trust before becoming a private inn) this home is a rich part of York's history, recently featured in front page news and on national television for its historic charm. (And it could be yours.)

Limestone Connection, a Baltimore band featuring Holly Morse-Ellington (on ukulele and vocals) and Jason Tinney (on harmonica), will play live music—originals, covers, and holiday tunes. Jason and Holly will also read from their work.

Participating regional authors and artists who will be on hand to sign and sell their works include:

Shirley Brewer—Poet-Bartender. Goddess of Swizzle. Author of poetry chaptbooks A Little Breast Music and After Words. M.A. from University of Baltimore. This writer mixes well!

Eric D. Goodman and Nataliya Goodman, author and illustrator of Flightless Goose, a storybook for children, and Tracks: A Novel in Stories. Flightless Goose was endorsed by a founding writer of Sesame Street. Tracks won the Gold Medal for best fiction in the Mid-Atlantic Region from the Independent Publishers Book Awards.

Anthony C. Hayes is an actor, author, rapscallion and bon vivant. A writer of poetry, humor and prose, Tony may be stalked at the Baltimore Post-Examiner.

Nitin Jagdish puts words into sentences and paragraphs that form stories, essays, and (very rarely) poems. Sometimes, publishers use those words.

Danuta E. Kosk-Kosicka is the author and translator of four books of poetry and short prose. She is co-editor of Loch Raven Review and a photographer. www.danutakk.wordpress.com.

Manzar’s artwork will be on display. Manzar was born in Tehran, Iran. Her work has been exhibited throughout the country and around the world. Her permanent collection is housed at the Watermark Gallery in Baltimore’s inner harbor. www.manzar.net.

Barbara Morrison, who writes under the name B. Morrison, is an award-winning poet and writer, a publisher, teacher, and dancer.  For more information visit www.bmorrison.com.

Sonia Linebaugh grew up in York and, after living in five states and one US territory, lives on the edge of Pennsylvania’s Michaux State Forest.

Jason Tinney will sign copies of his novel, Ripple Meets the Deep. Ripple Meets the Deep was named best book of Baltimore by Baltimore Magazine.

Readings will include poetry, short stories, and children’s books.

A beer tasting will be offered by Brewery Products.

Free snacks, food, hot drinks and cold drinks will be available to visitors, whether coming to look at the bazaar items or to tour the house.

Join us at the Historic York Inn / Smyser-Bair House, from 5 to 9 p.m. at 30 South Beaver Street, York, PA 17401 for York First Friday on December 4!

Find out about others participating in York City Light Up Night, all a hop, skip, and jump away from the holiday bazaar: http://yorkcity.org/lightupnight

Learn more about the history of the Smyser-Bair House / Historic York Inn at www.YorkInn.info.

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